amazon's not-so-honorable system?

well, i was going to write something pithy about the new amazon honor system. something about the potential pitfalls associated with the desensitization that could occur with every site and their brother innocently attempting to guilt you into giving a buck or two for services rendered. not that i’m against micropayments, but it would seem like after awile you would learn to ignore the badges just like you learn to ignore banner ads. in the end it could do a lot more harm for micropayments than good. imagine if npr did a mild-mannered pledge pitch every time you switched on the station and you get the picture. in any case, it looks like amazon is going to drop the ball by providing a mechanism for third party sites to give up yet more information of your browsing habits:

“Amazon customers may not know it, but stored on their personal computers are little pieces of software code called cookies that let Amazon identify them when they visit’s site. This can be helpful, because it lets the company recognize a return visitor and lets customers avoid re-typing all their information when they want to buy something.

Under the Honor System, Amazon will be able to learn when its customers are visiting third-party sites using the service — whether or not the Amazon customers click on the notice on those third-party sites. This is a fairly dramatic increase in Amazon’s ability to learn things about its customers — a windfall of information the company can and surely will use to sell things more effectively.”

[addendum: o.k. so taylor’s more articulate than i am at parsing out the difference between micropayments and microdonations. if micropayments were a bad idea [and i’m not sure they are a universally bad idea], then i still stand by my first impression about microdonations. they won’t work because they’ll be so commonplace that people will just ignore them across the board.]

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